The crickets were still chirping and a few random stars were out when Koko and I went walking this morning. Soon, though, they gave way to bird song and a bright flush of yellow that turned a brief, light shower into liquid sparkles before the sky turned grey again.
I had just about reached home when I ran into my neighbor Andy, being pulled up the road by his daughter’s dog, whose exuberance was matched only by Koko, who gave each passing car that exceeded the speed limit a good talking to.
I’ve been especially attuned to speed limits since getting a ticket in front of Coco Palms two weeks ago. The lieutenant who stopped me didn’t know exactly how fast I was going, even though he was clocking me (cop talk for tailgating), but I did, and it wasn’t “considerably higher” than the 25 mph speed limit, as he maintained, but more in the realm of a few miles above. Still, as he informed me: “The judges have said we can ticket people for going two miles above the speed limit.”
OK, so legally and technically you can, I thought, but why would you when the hazards are created by people going 10, 15, 20 miles over the speed limit?
Anyway, before handing me the ticket, he asked if I had any questions, and I said yes, because I always have questions, and I’d experienced the following scenario many times: What should you do if you’re driving the speed limit and a cop is following really close? Should you just pull over and let him by, or keep going the speed limit and make him pass?
If you can’t read the license plate of the car behind you, that’s tailgating, he said. So if you observe a cop doing that, you should get the license plate number and call in a report, then we’ll take action against the officer.
Right, I thought, recalling the last time I’d called to report reckless driving by an officer. The dispatcher was rude and incredulous, asking how did I know the cop wasn’t on a call, to which I replied, well, isn’t that why their cars are equipped with lights and sirens? Then the dispatcher said maybe I’d like to think about whether I wanted to make such a report, and if I did, well, call back and ask to speak to a supervisor.
Needless to say, I did not, especially since two local friends expressed horror at the prospect. But that was before Chief Perry came in to clean house, so perhaps things are different now. Or not.
Do you have any other questions? the ticketing cop asked, citation in hand. Gesturing toward the stream of pau hana traffic flowing northbound over the Wailua River, I said, just one: do you really think everybody is going 25 mph over the bridge right now?
No, he acknowledged sheepishly, he knew they were not, but by targeting drivers randomly for tickets, they hoped to instill a level of paranoia that would cause them to strictly adhere to the speed limit, thus slowing traffic overall.
Of course, he didn’t put it exactly like that, but that was the gist.
So with that in mind, I decided to observe the cop who was driving behind me on Kuhio Highway yesterday as we headed north toward the Wailua River. First, he passed me quickly, so I knew he was going considerably faster than the new 40 mph speed limit, and he didn’t slow a bit as he entered the 25 mph construction zone — where a speeding ticket can cost you $250, plus a $47 “education fee — on the bridge. In fact, he kept zipping right along until he braked to pull into the lane to turn onto Kuamoo Road.
Needless to say, it rankled. And I couldn’t help but wonder whether it wouldn’t be more effective in slowing traffic overall, while building some much-needed respect for the police force, if the cops actually drove the speed limit, routinely, consistently, setting a good example for us all.
Instead, as I’ve seen repeatedly, they just drive any kine and get away with it.
What kind of role model is that?